New Books Tuesday @ RRPL

There are many exciting new book releases coming and you don’t want to miss it…

Bewilderment by Richard Powers – A widowed astrobiologist and single father to a troubled son contemplates an experimental neurofeedback treatment that trains the boy on the recorded patterns of his mother’s brain in the new novel from the Pulitzer Prize–winning and #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Overstory.

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki – A novel explores the themes of loss, growing up, and our relationship with things.

Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty by Anderson Cooper & Katherine Howe – Drawing on never-before-seen documents and told from a unique insider’s viewpoint, the CNN anchor and New York Times bestselling author tells the story of his legendary family and their remarkable influence.

A Darker Reality by Anne Perry – Elena Standish investigates the mysterious death of Lila Worth, who she discovers is a British spy, at an anniversary party for her parents in Washington, D.C., in the third novel of the series following A Question of Betrayal.

Daughter of the Morning Star by Craig Johnson – After a Native high school basketball star whose sister disappeared begins receiving death threats, Tribal Police Chief Long, Absaroka County Sheriff Walt Longmire and Henry Standing Bear investigate in the latest novel of the series following Next to Last Stand.

An Impossible Promise by Jude Deveraux – Although they were lovers in the past, Liam O’Conner and Cora McLeod are just roommates in the present as they try to follow the angels’ commands in the second novel of the series following An Impossible Promise.

The Burning by Jonathan Kellerman & Jesse Kellerman – When deputy coroner Clay Edison discovers a link between the murder he is investigating and his brother, he is forced to reckon with his own suspicions, resentments and loyalties.

The Jailhouse Lawyer by James Patterson – When a young lawyer takes on a judge who is destroying her hometown, she ends up in jail where she learns the deadly truth about why the jail is so crowded and why so few prisoners are released.

When Ghosts Come Home by Wiley Cash – When a plane crash lands at the nearby airfield on the coast of North Carolina, Sheriff Winston Barnes begins a murder investigation that will change the course of his life and the fate of the community he has sworn to protect.

~Semanur

What We’re Reading Now–September edition

Build Your House Around My Body by Violet Kupersmith

This challenging and haunting debut novel straddles the line between horror and literary fiction, following three women in Vietnam in three different time periods: 1986, 2009, and 2011. In the 2011 narrative, young American ex-pat Winnie goes missing without a trace. The book is an unpredictable mash-up of Vietnamese folklore, colonial history, revenge, violence, and ghosts- all of which have something to do with Winnie’s disappearance. I have yet to finish the book, but the puzzle of these intersecting characters and timelines is intriguing and I’m looking forward to how this all comes together in the end. Nicole

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen 

The Vietnam War is coming to an end, and as Saigon is about to fall, a Captain begins to plan his General’s escape from the county.  Together, with a select few, they flee Saigon on one of the last army transports over-crowded with other refugees.  The Captain, half-French half-Vietnamese, a man of two minds, is a communist agent whose role is to observe and report back on the military cadre as they establish themselves in America.  As suspicion of a mole rises, the Captain must deflect attention away from himself at terrible costs.  This was an especially interesting and relevant contemplation of war, refugees, politics, and film considering the parallels of current events.  Trent

The Guncle by Stephen Rowley

Patrick loves his niece and nephew, but he is not prepared to be their caregiver when their mother dies and their father checks himself into rehab. A six and nine-year-old don’t really fit into his solitary actor’s life, but he’s resigned to making the best of it. He has Guncle Rules (Gay Uncle Rules) and treats for dinner. The trio stumbles through the summer not realizing how much they are all helping each other. I loved this one so much. It gave me the same feelings as The House in the Cerulean Sea-charming, delightful, and the perfect book for right now. This book was so funny I could almost forget it was, at its heart, a book about grief and loneliness. A must-read, feel-good story. Megan

Her Heart for a Compass by Sarah, Duchess of York

In 1865 London, Lady Margaret Montagu Scott is supposed to be delighted with the man her father chooses to be her husband. She is not! The night her engagement is to be announced, she runs off. Margaret’s family is embarrassed in front of 200 aristocratic guests. Her father refuses to have anything to do with her. Margaret is banished from the family and soon devotes her time and energy into helping the poor.  She heads to Ireland, America and then back to England. This is a fun gossipy tale. Emma

Something That May Shock and Discredit You by Daniel M. Lavery

Lavery’s collection of personal essays struck me with a range of emotions but mostly it had me laughing. This insightful and clever memoir switches from genres and formats with each chapter (and interludes) showcasing the author’s skill as a writer. I highly recommend the audiobook version which is read by the author. Greg

The Wonder Test by Michelle Richmond

On-leave FBI agent, Lina, and her son Rory head to Silicon Valley to clear out her recently deceased father’s house (which is in an extremely snobby and upscale neighborhood) as they are also recovering from her husband’s death. As Rory tries to adjust to life at his exclusive new school, he discovers all academics revolve around something called “The Wonder Test”, a national exam in which his school continuously places first. Students who do poorly on practice tests are required to see tutors in the evenings and on weekends, encouraged to “be sick” on exam days, and there have been some strange teen disappearances. Lina can’t help but to investigate as she attempts to make sense of this strange town and keep her son safe. Sara

Review of Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki book cover and catalog link

Shizuka Satomi, revered and feared violin instructor, is known as the Queen of Hell in the classical music world. As it turns out, the name is more apt than most people know – Shizuka made a deal with the devil to deliver seven talented, tortured souls to hell. So far, she has sent six souls to the fire, and while seeking her seventh, meets Katrina Nguyen. Katrina is a young runaway trans girl who is seeking safety and peace to play violin and be herself, and to Shizuka, is the perfect seventh soul to complete her deal. To further complicate things, Shizuka begins to fall for Lan Tran, the local donut lady who is actually an interstellar starship captain in hiding from the Galactic Empire. Lyrical and moving, Ryka Aoki’s new novel Light from Uncommon Stars surprises and delights at every turn.

This sort of mash-up should clash like discordant notes played off-key, but instead it sings like the most harmonious melody. The novel somehow combines science fiction aliens and a fantastical deal with the devil into a larger, cohesive whole, and this is only by the skill of the author. Aoki’s novel is queer, light, and witty, but with a darker edge that does not shy away from the lived experience of many trans people, with lyrical and dreamlike prose that employs extensive musical allegory. The author examines questions of identity, purpose, existence, and the ineffable beauty of music: how one person can competently play a piece of music without that spark that makes music special, and another can play like a beginner but infuse their feelings and message into the song, lighting the world on fire. For a defiantly joyful, queer meditation on family and identity, try Light from Uncommon Stars, coming out on September 28, 2021.

Thanks to NetGalley for the advanced reader copy!

New Books Tuesday @ RRPL

These are the books we are adding to our collection this week. Click on the maroon text to go to our catalog and place a hold today!

All in: An Autobiography by Billie Jean King – This autobiography from the tennis legend discusses not only her historic accomplishments on the court, but also her activism as a feminist and social justice fighter in the wake of her coming out as a gay at age 51.

Bloodless by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child – When completely exsanguinated bodies are found in Savannah, Georgia, FBI Agent Pendergast investigates amid growing panic and whispers of an infamous local vampire in the 20th novel in the series, following Crooked River.

Complications by Danielle Steel – After four years of renovations and the death of its beloved manager, a popular Paris boutique hotel reopens with new staff looking to make good impressions and guests seeking luxurious accommodations, but what they all find is unrelenting drama.

Another Kind of Eden by James Lee Burke – After hopping off a boxcar in early 1960s Denver, aspiring novelist Aaron Holland Broussard meets and instantly connects with Joanne McDuffy, a college student who is involved with a shady professor caught up in a drug-addled cult.

The Island by Ben Coes – When Iranian terrorists blow up the bridges and tunnels that connect Manhattan to the mainland during the President’s visit to the U.N., CIA agent Dewey Andreas, hopeless, outgunned and outmanned, must fight a seemingly impossible battle.

The Noise by James Patterson & J. D. Barker – After a mysterious explosion kills thousands in the Pacific Northwest, two survivors are left – 16-year-old Tennant and her 8-year-old sister, Sophie, in this new novel from the master of psychological suspense.

Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – In 1970s Mexico City, Maite, a secretary with a penchant for romance novels, searches for her missing neighbor, Leonora, a beautiful art student, which leads her to an eccentric gangster who longs to escape his own life, and together, they set out to discover the dangerous truth.

Viral by Rubin Cook – With his wife in a coma after contracting a rare and highly lethal mosquito-borne viral disease, Brian vows to seek justice against the hospital and insurance company that won’t cover the costs by exposing the dark side of a ruthless industry and bring down the executives preying on the sick.

A Terrible Fall of Angels by Laurell K. Hamilton – Angels walk among us, but so do other unearthly beings in this brand new series by a #1 New York Times best-selling author.

The Bookseller’s Secret by Michelle Gable – This dual-narrative set at the famed Heywood Hill Bookshop in London follows a struggling American writer’s search for a lost manuscript written by Nancy Mitford – a bookseller, spy, author and aristocrat – during World War II and the surprising link she discovers between the past and present.

Paradise: One Town’s Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire by Lizzie Johnson – A San Francisco Chronicle reporter, drawing on years of on-the-ground reporting and reams of public records, provides a first-hand account of California’s Camp Fire – the nation’s deadliest wildfire in a century, investigating root causes and how to avert future tragedies as the climate crisis unfolds.

~Semanur

Review of T. J. Klune’s Under the Whispering Door

Cover of Under the Whispering Door by T. J. Klune. Catalog link.

Ruthless lawyer Wallace wakes up at his own funeral and thinks he has to be dreaming. But when a stranger at the service turns out to be a reaper sent to collect his soul, he starts to believe. She takes him to a mysterious tea shop run by Hugo, a ferryman who helps souls in their transition to the afterlife. Afraid and angry, Wallace refuses to move on, effectively leaving him in limbo in the teashop. Gradually, with the help of Hugo, the reaper, and a couple of resident ghosts, Wallace begins to learn to be a better person and care about other people. Under the Whispering Door is T. J. Klune’s newest novel after The House on the Cerulean Sea, the sleeper hit and bestseller of last year. 

Whispering Door is all at once a queer love story, a metaphysical treatise, and an introduction to philosophy. It also runs the gamut of emotions; at times funny, serious, and sad, with a main character whose personal growth is organic, if somewhat sped up. Though the subject matter can be heavy, Klune’s outlook on death and the afterlife is altogether positive, and the book’s tone remains upbeat even while discussing difficult topics. After his breakout hit, Klune has clearly found a formula that works, and he has perfected it further here. In fact, my only complaint is that this new novel is too similar to the plot of Cerulean Sea: a grumpy loner finds a new family and becomes a better person. The book is predictable, but that is part of its charm – it is chocolate chip cookie-style comfort food packaged in a story about grim reapers and the afterlife. Fans of the previous novel will love this book, and newcomers will enjoy the quirky and uplifting story.

Look for Under the Whispering Door on September 21, 2021. 

Thanks to NetGalley for the Advance Reader Copy!

Staff Picks- August

One of the best things about working in a public library is being exposed to so many different books! I know I can be guilty of sticking to my reading comfort zone, but thanks to the eclectic readership we have on staff, I’m always hearing personal recommendations and reviews from my amazing colleagues, including a wide variety of genres.

This month Adult Services staff shared some current favorites, including a discussion worthy nonfiction title, an updated classic with a fantasy twist, and a stand-out autobiography. Take a look below for our five staff picks!

Hop on over to our digital library to snag one of these titles now! Ilhan Omar narrates the audiobook version of This is What America Looks Like, which was highly recommended by our staff, so if you are an audiobook fan don’t miss out on this great title.

New Books Tuesday @ RRPL

Here some of the new exciting releases for you to take a look at this week!

Better to Have Gone: Love, Death, and the Quest for Utopia in Auroville by Akash Kapur – Explores the lives, and ultimate deaths, of two people in a utopian community in India.

When We Were Young by Richard Roper – In order to find their way back to the truth and to their friendship, two long-lost friends honor a promise they made years ago to walk all 184 miles of the Thames Path.

False Witness by Karin Slaughter – Defense attorney Leigh Collier is taken aback when she discovers her new, high profile case will be defending her childhood abuser in the new novel from the New York Times best-selling author of Pieces of Her.

The Man With the Silver Saab by Alexander McCall Smith – A detective in Malmo’s Department of Sensitive Crimes, Ulf Varg, while dealing with surprising new cases, struggles with his feelings for a colleague.

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing – Belmont Academy’s Teacher of the Year, Teddy Crutcher is frustrated by his colleagues and endlessly meddlesome parents who begin digging a bit too deeply into his affairs after the death of an Academy parent and his seemingly missing wife.

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker Chan – When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongban, given the fate of greatness, dies during a brutal attack, his sister, escaping her own fated death, uses her brother’s identity to claim another future altogether—her brother’s abandoned greatness.

Intimacies by Katie Kitamura – Seeking a fresh start an interpreter takes a position at the International Court at The Hague and is drawn into numerous personal dramas, including her lover’s ongoing entanglement in his marriage and her friend witnessing a random act of violence.

A Woman of Intelligence by Karin Tanabe – A former translator at the United Nations who has become a bored 1950s housewife is asked to join the FBI as an informant after a man from her past has become a high-level Soviet spy.

What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad – Looking at the global refugee crisis through the eyes of a child, this dramatic story follows Vänna who comes to the rescue of a 9-year-old Syrian boy who has washed up on the shores of her small island and is determined to do whatever it takes to save him.

Until Proven Safe: The History and Future of Quarantine by Geoff Manaugh & Nicola Twilley – Helping us make sense of our new reality, this timely book tracks the history and future of quarantine around the globe, chasing the story of emergency isolation through time and space.

~Semanur

Review of She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan book cover and catalog link

In an exciting and fresh new historical fantasy debut, after an orphaned young girl is told that she is destined for nothingness by a fortune teller, she instead takes the fate of greatness that was meant for her deceased twin brother. Pretending to be a boy, the peasant girl Zhu becomes a monk, a soldier, and eventually a general in her quest to seize greatness and wrest control of ancient China from the Mongol Empire. 

Besides being a gripping feminist reimagining of Chinese history, the novel employs a refreshingly original magic system that is tied in with Chinese beliefs and historical facts. In an fascinating twist, the concept of the ‘mandate of heaven’ that defined who had the right to rule in historical ancient China becomes an actual flame that the chosen few can summon. The characters are complex and layered, especially Zhu, with robust queer representation and exploration of gender beyond the binary. Parker-Chan deftly explores what someone will do to survive, whether that is to compromise their values or even kill in cold blood, which is also tied in with the lure of power and womanhood in ancient China. The concept of immutable fate is central to the story – and in less-skilled hands could be boring – but Parker-Chan plays with the uncertainty of how Zhu’s fate will be achieved, and for how long she will keep the greatness she is promised. This is a top-notch historical fantasy novel (and the first installment of a duology) with a complicated, ruthless female lead – for anyone who enjoyed And I Darken by Kiersten White. 

Published on July 22, 2021.

ARC (advance reader copy) courtesy of NetGalley.